Sunday, January 9, 2011

Straw Rigs for Spanish Mackerel

I've been trying to go through some of my fishing tackle and get it organized in preparation for Spring and Summer fishing. While I was digging through my saltwater box , I ran across the box I keep for straw rigs and thought it would make a great warm water " How-to " on this cold winter day.

Spanish Mackerels are a smaller cousin of the King Mackerel. Like the King they prefer warm water and are often present off the coast of the Carolinas during the Summer months. They are fast swimmers that congregate in large schools and feed on small baitfish. Spanish Mackerels can be caught using live bait , spoons and other lures , including mackerel trees which are very similar to the rig we're making today.

I really don't know where or when the straw rig originated , but I can certainly remember the first time I saw one in action. I was at the end of Hatteras Island Fishing Pier in Rodanthe and had been seeing Kings busting on schools of Spanish all day. I had been trying for a couple of hours to catch some of the small Spanish to send out on my pin rig with absolutely no luck , when a guy comes out with a straw rig and promptly catches 4 perfectly sized Spanish Mackerels on his first cast. Needless to say I could have thrown him off of the pier , but I did learn how to make them from him and I still consider him a friend to this day.

My Straw Rig Box
This is a very simple rig to make and is surprisingly effective for Spanish Mackerels. You will need size 1 or 1/0 gold Aberdeen hooks , 30 pound test monofilament , a 2 ounce pyramid sinker and a few different colored straws. You can go around to different convenience stores and grab an extra straw or two when you get coffee. The point is to have several different colors. For some reason more colorful rigs produce a lot more fish.

I always cut my straws for these rigs in advance and keep them in my tackle box so they are ready when I need them. I cut mine so they are straight on one end and at a 45 degree angle on the other. I like for mine to be split on the top side of the 45 degree end , so the hook will rest in the split.
Little minnows?
After you have hooks in your straws , thread them onto the spool of line with the hook point facing the spool. I normally use five hooks for these rigs. Tie the pyramid sinker to the line now as this will help when you are tying the knots. Grab the last hook you threaded onto the spool and slide it down the line until it is about 8-10 inches from the sinker. Now hold the hook and straw and tie a Surgeon's Loop . This knot allows the hooks to move around freely , adding action to your rig. Repeat this with all of your hooks , spacing them 6-8 inches apart. After you have all of your knots done , cut the rig from the spool leaving 12-14 inches above the uppermost hook and tie on a barrel swivel. Now you have a straw rig!

I'm not entirely sure why this rig works , but it does. I guess the straws have a baitfish look when they are in the water and maybe water passing through the straws triggers strikes. You can fish these with a MH bass rod or a heavier rod used for surf fishing. Cast the rig out and bring it back in fairly quickly. I like to keep the top hook just barely under water. I also bounce it some and shake it around to trigger strikes.

You have two option when it comes to storing these rigs. You can make them as needed and when you're done cut the hooks , sinker and swivel off. Or you can use  foam (pictured below) and bury the hooks in it so you don't have to retie every time. Pool noodles also work well for this purpose.
Anybody know what this foam is called?
Have a great week!


  1. Hard to believe a little nothing like a straw catches fish. Then again, I have just about caught perch on a bare hook.

  2. Those do look like little minnows. Little purple minnows! :) lol

    Do you mean what kind of foam - as in closed cell, etc? I don't know, but I wish I did - I have some of it that i'm hoping to turn into little black ants at some point.

    Hey - what's a mackerel look like, anyway?

  3. Home made Sabiki the easy way!!! Very nice and great idea!!! We fish these type of rigs alot up here for bait and I'll have to give the straws a try

  4. You might have to tinker with the hook size and the size/length of the straws to get this rig to work for the size bait you want. Coffee stirrers and a #4 long shank gold hook might get the job done?

  5. Captain Paul , be sure to stop by and let me know if you have any luck! I know people who use 4 or 5 straws of the same color ( mainly white with a red stripe ) and that may work better for bait. The gold hooks are a must have though.

  6. Gonna try this for Pacific Mackerel. If it works on our Left Coast fish it will save me $4 a pop over the Grande size Sabiki rigs. I see a few convenience store and restaurant stops in my near future.


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